They dropped like flakes, they dropped like stars,
Like petals from a rose,
When suddenly across the June
A wind with fingers goes.
They perished in the seamless grass, —
No eye could find the place;
But God on his repealless list
Can summon every face.”
(from “Poems by Emily Dickinson, Three Series)
I’m not sure how literally to take these two stanzas from Emily Dickinson, I have no clue what particular battle, if any, she had in mind, but this is Waterloo Day, when great horse-backed armies clashed and Napoleon was finally beaten.
The British troops that day were led by the Duke of Wellington who later became the honorary Lord Warden of the Cinque Ports and had his official residence at Walmer Castle in Kent. Like its nearby companion, Deal Castle, it was built by Henry VIII to fortify a vulnerable stretch of the English Channel coastline.
It is the chapel of Deal Castle that we see here. This was built in the 1920s for the Captain of Deal, another honorary position then held by another military commander, General Sir John French, the First Earl of Ypres who commanded the British Expeditionary Force in the First World War.
The chapel is a memorial to all who have died in armed conflict. The petals on the altar are from British Legion poppies, which represent those who died in the First World War and conflict since then.
On this summer’s day, let us pause and pray for peace; for all those who are fighting around the world, for those injured in battle and for bereaved families.